Best Horse Breeds For Beginners [And First Time Owners]

So you’re here because you are looking for the best horse breeds for beginners? If you have your heart set on owning a horse of a particular breed, you may have to search harder for the right individual. Suitable beginner horses of almost any breed exist, you may just have to look a bit further and try out more horses before you find just the right horse for you.

Whether you have got some experience already or you’re a beginner who is looking to buy a first horse, we hope this text will answer your questions. Read on to learn more.

What’s The Best Breed For A First Horse?

best horse breeds for beginners

When looking for your first horse, it’s a good idea to avoid horses that are described as being “hot”, “hot-blooded” or having a “lot of blood”. These terms are used to describe fiery, excitable horses such as Arabian horses, Thoroughbreds and a few others.

These finely built, energetic, flighty horses are suited to competitive activities such racing and showing and are, best handled by experienced riders and trainers.

Draft horses are bred to perform heavy work. They are generally calm and quiet and are considered “cold-bloods”. These horses are large and heavy-boned and not as agile as “hot-bloods”. Purebred draft horses are not typically used for riding.

Warmbloods, such as Hanoverian, Holsteiner, and Trakhener are the result of careful crossbreeding of draft breeds and hot-blooded breeds. While they are calmer than hot-bloods, they are still better suited to experienced riders who want to show and compete.

For a novice, first-time horse owner the type of horse typically described as a “cob” is a good choice. This description encompasses many attractive breeds (best horse breeds for beginners) including:

  • Pony of the Americas (POA)
  • Gypsy Vanners
  • Quarter Horses
  • Welsh Ponies
  • Appaloosas
  • Haflingers
  • Morgans
  • Paints

All of these tend to have a balanced and fairly quiet personality suitable for beginners but can also be interesting and enjoyable for experienced riders.

These are all types that are sturdily built, not especially tall and are versatile enough to ride or drive. These horses are typically quieter and better able to form a bond with their handler.

Crosses that contain some draft horse blood (Belgian, Percheron, Irish Draught, Suffolk Punch, Clydesdale or Shire) can be considered cob-types. This sort of cross often displays a calm and even temperament.

Nonetheless, always remember that each horse is an individual and breeding is only a small part of the formula that determines temperament.

For simple pleasure riding any individual whose temperament suits your personality will do. Don’t neglect the idea of starting off with a nice saddle mule. Mules are typically calmer and sturdier than horses. A good saddle mule can be a real pleasure to ride, and mules are typically healthier and live significantly longer than horses.

A Bad Background Produces A Bad Horse

best breed of horse for first time owner

Just as with people, horses are a product of nature and nurture. It is far better to focus on the training and temperament of your first horse than the breed. A mature, well-trained horse of any breed is preferable to even the very best young, untrained horse or one who has been poorly trained.

Project horses or rescues that have been badly abused are also not good choices for a beginner. Even the best breeding can be destroyed by improper care and handling.

Does Size Matter?

does horse size matter

The size of your mount should be well matched to your size. If you are small, you should not be precariously perched atop an enormous draft horse. Likewise, if you are heavy or long-legged, avoid comically straddling a very small horse or pony. You will look ridiculous to others, and your horse will not find you amusing at all.

Generally speaking, new riders tend to do best with small-to-medium sized horses. Larger, sturdy ponies (13HH) can typically carry an adult well and are nicely suited for smaller adults and children. Smaller horses (14-15HH) are a good choice for most adults.

If you are exceptionally tall or heavy, you may wish to look for a taller horse or a horse or mule with draft blood. Draft horses are known to be calm, but for the most part a smaller horse is easier to tack up, easier to mount, easier to ride and less of a challenge to feed.

What About Age?

a mature horse

A mature horse is a better choice for a beginner. If a horse has been well-cared-for, “advanced” age should not be a concern. Horses can live to be over twenty years old when well-cared-for and remain perfectly sound for quiet pleasure riding.

When you buy an older horse, you will probably spend less on the purchase price. With proper care and feeding, you can look forward to many years of enjoyable riding.

Which Is Better, Mares, Geldings Or Stallions?

mares, geldings or stallions

Nobody but a breeder needs a stallion. A beginning rider definitely does not need a stallion. Hormone swings can cause a great deal of unpredictable behavior in stallions and in some mares.

Generally speaking, you are better off with a gelding. Even if you buy a male mule, be sure he has been properly gelded by a veterinarian. This eliminates concerns about hormone driven misbehavior. Equines that have been improperly gelded by a non-professional often continue to exhibit inappropriate, hormonally driven behaviors.

If you want to learn a bit more about different horse breeds, it is a good idea to buy one of the popular books about horses and horse breeds.

Frequently Asked Questions

breeds for first time owners
1. What breed of horse is the most comfortable to ride?

A gaited horse with a smooth, easy “fox-trot” tends to be the most comfortable to ride. Some examples of gaited horses include:
– Tennessee Walking Horse
– Rocky Mountain Horse
– American Saddlebred
– Missouri Fox Trotter
– Peruvian Paso
– Racking Horse
– Walkaloosa
– Paso Fino
– Morgan

Older, well trained horses of all sorts that may no longer be suitable for hard riding may also be just fine for pleasure riding. An older, settled horse of any breed is typically more comfortable to ride than a young, fiery one.

2. What is the cheapest horse breed?

Horses that are headed for slaughter can often be had very inexpensively, and contrary to popular belief, these horses are not always problem horses or ill horses. Here are some examples of bargains you can find through breeders, auctions or newspaper ads.

a) Quarter horses are abundant due to being popular and overbred. Culls can be bought affordably, sometimes from breeders and sometimes from auctions. Sometimes very young, sound horses can be found languishing in kill-pens, marked for slaughter.

b) Off-track Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds are retired race horses. They can often be purchased for next to nothing, and doing so may very well save them from slaughter.

c) American mustangs can be purchased from the Bureau of Land Management inexpensively, and there is also a program in place to help new owners provide the required setting for these wild horses.

Sadly, some big ranchers have recently taken advantage of this program, snapped up these horses in bulk, kept them for the required time period and then sent them to slaughter. These horses are only suitable for experienced horsemen and women.

d) Older family horses of all sorts. In these challenging economic times, many individuals are finding it impossible to keep and feed treasured equine family members. Some are surrendered to animal control and rescues, some are advertised cheap or free to good home.

If acquiring a horse from a rescue, you will need to show that you can keep and care for the horse properly, and you’ll need to pay an adoption fee.

If you want to find a cheap or free to good home horse, you’ll have to scour the advertisements regularly and act fast as these horses are targeted by kill-buyers who lie to obtain them and then just ship them off to slaughter.

3. Are Arabian horses good for beginners?

Arabians are typically not very large, so this makes them a good choice for young riders and beginning riders. They are very smart and they bond deeply with their people once trust is established. To gain any horse’s trust, you must be calm and collected and you must behave in a predictable, dependable, competent manner. If you are a beginner who is able to do this, an Arabian can be a good horse for you.

4. Are Friesian horses good for beginners?

Friesians are also intelligent, loyal and friendly and a good candidate for join-up with a calm, competent person. A Friesian is a larger, more powerful horse than an Arabian, so it may be a more suitable horse for a larger beginning rider.

1 thought on “Best Horse Breeds For Beginners [And First Time Owners]”

  1. Great article…enjoyed reading. Good info.
    Was always looking for a list of beginner horses to buy. So glad to have the list.
    Thank you!


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